Adding Character Depth
Characters are not simply a combination of stats and skills that appeared one day out of the void. They are real people with histories and experiences, hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes. To make your character as realistic as possible, you should think about, and answer, each of the following questions
What do they look like?
The people of Ennaeth are normal humans in appearance, but they do have access to hair dyes if that’s your kind of thing. Spend some time describing your character’s hair, eyes, skin, and overall appearance. If you’d like some ideas, I’ve assembled a few roll tables for you to try out.
As you describe your character, don’t forget that appearance isn’t just skin, hair, and eyes. How someone carries themselves, whether they have scars, birthmarks, or skin spots, whether they look healthy or sickly, and even how charming they are will all influence how others see them.
Where did they come from?
Try to write up as complete a backstory as you can so that you can play your character as accurately as possible. Give it at least a paragraph, but more is always welcome. Answer some of the following questions when you do so:
- Where did they grow up?
- How old are they and when is their birthday?
- Who raised them? Was it their parents or someone else? What were those people like and what did they do as a career?
- Did your character go to school after finishing primary school? If so, where and what for? Were they an apprentice somewhere? What kinds of jobs have they had?
- Have they experienced any tragedies? Any miracles? What are the best and worst things to ever happen to them?
- What are their goals for their lives? Do they want to build a strong career? If so, what career? Do they seek something else, such as adventure, fame, fortune, or the like? What do they want the most?
What is your character like to be around?
f we were sitting in a room with your character, what would they be like? Are they the one sitting in a corner reading a book, or are they the one dancing on the table after a few drinks? Consider answering some of the following questions in describing their personality:
- Are they more quiet, or are they outgoing? Do they rarely talk or do they never stop talking? How friendly are they with strangers? How shy are they about dancing at the pub, speaking on a stage, or making a scene in public?
- Is your character cautious or curious? Would they do something dangerous just to see what happens, or do they try to stay out of trouble?
- How organized are they? Do they keep everything in their home clean and tidy, or are there books and papers scattered across every surface? Are they disciplined in their studies and work, or do they tend to procrastinate?
- How even-tempered are they? Do they get mad or upset easily? How do they act when they do get upset?
- How kind are they? Do they go out of their way to help the people around them, or do they tend to be more focused on their own wishes? Are they trustworthy? Honest?
When designing your character, make sure that they are likeable. As much fun as villains can be, this is neither the place nor the time for characters that are overly sadistic, antagonistic, or generally grumpy and unpleasant to be around. The entire party needs to be motivated to stick together, and people aren’t going to want to stick with people they’re not able to be friends with.
Now, that’s not to say that your character needs to be perfect! We all have that one friend who is always getting into trouble and making questionable decisions. They just need a good set of positive qualities to balance it out.
Always keep in mind that 100% of your roleplaying experience depends on the people you are playing with. A group of people who do their best to get along can make anything fun, but a group of people who are upsetting or irritating each other will never be able to have a good time.